SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition
Does it sound like a paradox to say that Cafe Zitouna's kufta tajine is spicy and comforting at the same time? Perhaps. Among the soups, pepper-lashed couscous dishes, and mild, sweet-inflected Moroccan stews on the menu, chef-owner Najib Rebia serves a meatball stew as vivid and soothing as the sunlight that floods the cafe most days.
It's all a matter of the layering of flavors. The golf-ball-sized lamb meatballs, which pulse with garlic and cumin, are buried under a bed of long-sauteed peppers, onions, and tomatoes seasoned with Tunisian spices. In the center are two eggs, which have poached in the mingled juices; their yolks ooze out thickly, just a few degrees short of solidifying. Every prickle of chile or flare of coriander and caraway comes with its own balm -- the sweetness of the peppers, the sateen caress of olive oil. It's humble enough to sop up with bread, and opulent enough to linger in the memory for weeks afterward.